The year is 1845, the earliest days of the Oregon Trail, and a wagon team of three families has hired the mountain man Stephen Meek to guide them over the Cascade Mountains. Claiming to know a short cut, Meek leads the group on an unmarked path across the high plain desert.
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Now this is a film. Beautifully captured, great camera work and astonishing use of colors. You don't feel slow parts because even when the camera wonders there's something meaningful going on; you can see it in the duration of the gestures. It is without a doubt a great cinematic experience and a insightful story. Great ending.
Loneliness and growing paranoia creep along the edges of this quietly haunting western about a small wagon train heading west under the guidance of a mysterious frontiersman that the pioneers begin to mistrust. Austere and carefully modulated, MEEK'S CUTOFF is a marvel of artistic and emotional restraint.
Picturesque shots and a sense of the ethereal pervade from early on, complimenting the eerie tone and mysteriousness of the subject matter. Has a fantastic feel to it as well, which is enhanced by the acting and dry sound design.
I can't believe I let this get by me -- absolutely wonderful... breathtaking... original... I can't even begin to speak about this now. How about that ending? Talk about a mind-fuck. The insistence on the use of natural lighting reminded me of some of Terrence Malick's work.
I have gone on record regarding my admiration for Michelle Williams' spectacular star-turn in My Week with Marilyn, but while discussing the other excellent work she has been doing lately, I avoid using the word performance. It is not so much a performance that she creates in films like Meek's Cutoff, but a characterization. She does not seek to impress critics and audience, but create on film a living person.
The barren physical landscape slowly starts to mirror the journey's hopelessness and empty promise of paradise. Notice how their "north star" shifts as this quest lurches west—be it the bombastic guide, the disinterested stranger, or the pitiless God we encounter in the first lines of the film..."for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."